Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Zine Review: Rad Dad #19

Tomas Moniz, Ed. (Microcosm)
Editor and rad dad, Tomas Moniz is back with another issue of his Rad Dad zine. The purpose of Rad Dad is to help guide dads in the raising of their kids. Actually, it's not a guide necessarily, although it does serve that purpose. Tomas's goal is to share stories, thoughts and observations on parenting with like-minded parents who have made their share of mistakes and have learned from them. The contributors are not all dads either, but they are all activists, organizers, musicians and artists. They're definitely to the left politically and the challenges they confront while parenting range from issues like early gender identity ("The Handsome Daughter" by Laura Pretnar) to food activism ("How to Turn Your Kids into Radicals" by John Chapman). There are interviews with activist/writer John Conant and Pittsburgh musician JonJon Cassagnol, as well as several pieces remembering Oscar Grant who was fatally shot by BART cops in Oakland in 2009Chris Auman

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

R.I.P. Patrice O'Neal

Joey T. Germ Presents: Cassette Reviews: Too Tough To Die

Too Tough to Die (Sire) 1984
Not the greatest Ramones record ever ever, but really, have they ever made a bad one? With the Ramones you have to embrace their faults, idiosyncracies, and quirks and love them warts and all. Considering the personalities and disorders at play in the band, any release seems like a miracle in hindsight. Plus, we got Tommy Ramone back in his spot at the controls, so there's that. While most of the tunes on Too Tough to Die won't have you jumping to your feet, shaking your fist in a beat-on-the-brat kinda way, it does have its moments. Like "Wart Hog," for example—a Dee Dee punk rock gem with a very infectious chorus. This was Dee Dee's answer to the hardcore of the day, but he just couldn't help making it a catchy tune in the bargain. "Endless Vacation" is another Dee Dee attempt to play hardcore which succeeds in the brainless and tunelessness a lot of hardcore aspired to in the mid 80s. In fact, Too Tough to Die is a mostly Dee Dee affair with the bass player contributing nine out of thirteen tracks. Non Dee Dee songs like "Chasing the Night," and "Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La)" are classic 60s ala Ramones pop songs. There are some throwaways sure, like "Planet Earth 1988" (still four years away at this point), and "Danger Zone," a forgettable if not forgivable bland rock attempt. All in all, Too Tough to Die is a return to form and remains a solid brick in the house that the Ramones built—Joey T. Germ

Dan Kiss contributed this cassette to Joey T. Germ Presents: Cassette Reviews. Thanks, Dan!

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Music Review: Wooden Shjips

Wooden Shjips (pronounced Shjips) are not afraid to sail out into a stoner rock squall. Aye, these four shjipmates are likely to throw up a jib and stretch out leeward or aft for the better part of ten minutes if they get a taste for it. Not in a jam band sorta way, mind you, but with more of a trance-like, hypnotic repetition that harkens back across time and the ocean to Brit band Loop or maybe even Monster Magnet circa Tab...25 back east stateside. “Black Smoke Rise” kicks off this seven song set with fuzzed out guitar, followed by reverb-soaked keys and vocals. That's the Shjip's template for the most part; those elements winding and wafting their way through a hazy tour of intermittent guitar solos, guitar washes and assorted studio effects. There are some slight zigs and the occasional zag of departure: “Lazy Bones” ironically enough, steps up the tempo; “Home” flirts coyly with a classic rock riff; “Looking Out” is downright bouncy like a midnight carnival on psychedelics (or quality REM sleep) and “Rising” just flips the script by being all backwards. When taken together, it all combines to make West the perfect destination for when you want to go somewhere but just don't feel like getting out your chairChris Auman [Wooden Shjips]

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Music Review: Bad Cop

I Can't Slow Down Digital EP

Bad Cop are some young dudes from Nashville who do a pretty dang good bang-up job of playing garage rock. They seem to pay as much attention to the fuzz as to the hook and the chorus and the song as a whole—not always the case in the genre. This 3 song, 2 video EP is not just adrenaline pumping (there’s certainly that), but it's got substance too. Lead off track “Animal” exemplifies that previous point, reminding one of Screaming Trees, who also paid homage with tips of the hat. “Maniac" is in the middle and a smidge more manic. "Gloom Bank," is gloomy, sure, but still suitable for buggin’ out. Videos for "Gloom Bank" and "Maniac" comprise the difference. They're low budget, low brow and bloody, just how you like 'em. And it’s free to download, so download it freely here—Jubson Jones

Always read the Reglar Wiglar: check out Rebecca Seung's article on Bad Cop!

The Perfect Stocking Stuffer!

Tell Santa you want a GG Allin Bobblehead* from ROIR this year... or you'll cut his fat face!

*Feces sold separately. Merle not included.

Monday, November 21, 2011

DVD Review: Krush Groove

Let me lay down a quick plot summary for you: It’s New York in the hip hop '80s and rap is just starting to gain some respect outside of the 'hood. This is evident by the sudden success of real-life rappers RUN-DMC, Kurtis Blow and Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde—all artists on the independent Krush Groove record label run by Russell Walker. Krush Groove doesn't have the cash to keep up with demand, so Russell has to borrow money from a "bad dude"; some douche from Galaxy Records has a hard-on for the acts on Walker's fledgling label and offers RUN a chance to get paid; RUN leaves Russ for the Galaxy deal; Russ gets a beat down from thugs sent by the loan shark; RUN likes Sheila E.  who plays Prince-sounding purple soul but crosses over to rap—oh, and she likes Russ and Russ likes her and they "do it" in a really cheesy love scene with candles—and it’s all a big mess until it  isn't anymore. 

Sure, it's a bad movie. It's not well-written and the plot was tired 25 years ago when the movie came out, but it's still entertaining in a raploitation sort of way. Low lights include a performance by New Edition looking as ugly as they ever were and the acting is pretty bad across the board. Most characters play themselves and not terribly well. Russell Simmons was wise to take only a small role as a club promoter. 

It's not all bad though, just mostly. Tolerable are The Fat Boys who manage to be somewhat charming in a comedic subplot that features an "all-you-can-eat" scene at an Sbarro's. The Beastie Boys get about a minute of camera time to perform "She's On It" and a teenaged LL Cool J. wows the boys at Krush Groove with an impromptu audition of "I Can't Live Without My Radio" after barging into their offices with his boombox. 

And of course, it's all loosely based on the true life story of Rick Rubin's and Russell Simmons' Def Jam label. The high point of it all, however, is the final scene at Disco Fever where Rick Rubin can be seen DJing in the background while wearing a Hüsker Dü t-shirt which gives the entire film credibility in its final seconds—Chris Auman 

Thanks Public Library!

Friday, November 18, 2011

CD-R Review: Mike Mountain

Hiding in the Rock (75 Words or Less)
Mike Mountain (Mike Mtn. for short) is a four-piece rock band from New Bedford, MA. They play your basic blues-based rock music. Nothing new there. However, what makes this band unique from say, any number of bands jamming and drinking in garages, basements and practice spaces all across the universe right now (and there are millions) is the bizarre quality of the lyrics. Let me give you a taste from the lead-off track “Acid at the Funeral”:

Cut my feet on glass/Eighth-grade mustache
The natives in my head/have a banquet and some cash

These are either cut & paste, stream of conscious or both. The record continues in this thematic lyrical vein with "Las Vegas Waltz" which sounds like it's about Lyme disease but isn't, nor is it a waltz; "Freebird 33-1/3 " does not sound like Skynyrd on vinyl played at long-player speed; "Two Little Bossmen" is demented Dylan and "Put 'Em on Ice" name checks Slick Rick, of all people. So, if you're getting the impression that Mike Mountain is a little off, then I've done my job—Jubson Jones [Mike Mountain]

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Zine Review: Burn Collector #15

by Al Burian (
Al Burian is back for another issue of Burn Collector. BC #15 finds Al living in Berlin. Like always, Al shares his thoughts and observations on life in his newly chosen city, but before that he needs to deal with a searing toothache that sends him immediately to the streets in search of a dentist. After an aborted first attempt at the dental office in the building he lives in, Al finds a caring, gentle soul who is willing to ease his pain. She of course disproves of Al's lack of preventive dental maintenance. Al returns later to plead poverty to the woman, who he hopes will fall in love with him and forgive his debt to her. Doesn't happen.

Also in this issue, Anne Elizabeth Moore contributes a piece, "When You Realize the Freedom" (title courtesy of a Hasselhoff lyric) on the selling of the Berlin Wall (more literally than figuratively). There’s an interview with fellow zine-maker and ex pat Liam Warfield on living in Berlin. Al also reviews various things like Berlin’s Tegel Airport, books on writing (Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King), people (Ronnie James Dio) as well as various records, squats and Germany’s May 1st holiday.

Always good to check in. No comics though? What's up with that, Al?Chris Auman

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Zine Review: The East Village Inky #48

by Ayun Halliday (EVI)
One-time member of the Chicago Neo-Futurists theatre company, Northwestern grad, writer of several books, zinester and native Hoosier, Ayun Halliday is now the proud publisher of forty-eight issues of The East Village Inky. EVI was begun when Ayun and husband Greg Kotis (Urinetown, look it up!) lived in an East Village apartment. Now in Brooklyn with two children, she continues to produce this hand drawn, handwritten and hand-laid-out zine. This is my first encounter with EVI and just my luck, it’s also the first ever music issue, and I like music. In this forty page mini, Ayun recounts tales of her musical listening history touching upon early influences from grade school through high school, college and beyond. I must admit, I do not have much in common with Ayun as far as musical tastes (Todd Rundgren is the zine’s centerfold for example), but I won’t dwell on that. What I can relate to is the joy of making and receiving mix tapes and I agree that movie soundtracks are good ways to discover new music that is often old music. I enjoyed the section in which a smattering of “hip” Brooklyn teens are interviewed about what they're listening to. They seem to have pretty devloped musical tastes, which is either due to living in Brooklyn, their parents, the accessibility of music on the Internet or all three—the perfect storm for "hip" in this modern age, I suppose.

EVI reads like a conversation you're having with a friend you haven’t seen in a while and you only have a short time to talk. A lot gets crammed in, topics change quickly and sometimes you lose the thread of the converation for awhile but your friend is so happy to fill you in that you really don't careChris Auman

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Magazine Review: Devastator #4

Devastator is a comedy magazine in digest form. It contains comics and other writings of a satirical nature intended to make you laugh, preferably out loud. It succeeds in this endeavor. Number four is the "Arcade" issue, although nostalgia is really the theme here. This is immediately evident from the flip side of the book, which is a parody of my beloved Choose Your Own Adventure series from the 70s and 80s. Writer John Ford skewers the genre with “Night at the Arrrrr-cade!” where the second person you gets trapped in a haunted game room. They’ve got everything down to a tee in terms of the fonts and writing style of those books and Marc J. Palm’s cover is spot on in it’s imitation.

There’s comics too, with James Kochalka delivering a Glorkian Warrior's tale in “Attract Mode,” Matt Taylor’s "Marriage Command" is good for a giggle and Edmund McMillen serves up something called “Meat Boy and Dr. Fetus” in the tradition of Goofus and Gallant.

Some of the satirical targets of Devastator are either before or after my time (probably after, sadly) like Amanda Meadows' "Mr. Do: Return of the Dino Drones" which parodies Scholastic Publishing’s Blast into Books series, of which I am unfamiliar. Judging from this piece, however, I get the gist of what those books are like. I know the type of crap education publishers try to download to developing brains.

Even the revered Atari 2600 is not spared the comedic wrath of Devastator. John Schnepp delivers a withering indictment of Atari’s 1979 game "Adventure" titled "Sadventure". And deservedly so, I mean, did they really expect us to believe that floating duck was a frickin' dragon? That game sucked on so many levels (pun intended).

And there's plenty more in this issue that a brief recap, such as this, is forced to omit. In short, Devastator showcases a mountain of talent by writers and artists who also contribute to some big names in comedy from Conan to the Onion News Network. And it looks great too—Chris Auman [Devastator]

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

R.I.P. Bill Keane

R.I.P. Heavy D

Zine Review: The CIA Makes Science Fiction Unexciting

The Life of Lee Harvey Oswald by Abner Smith (microcosm)
Two thousand and eleven marks the 10th anniversary of Microcosm's CIAMSFU series. This is the first one I've read, so I'm only a decade behind at this point. Issue number six is a short bio of Kennedy assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Using declassified government documents, writer Abner Smith constructs Oswald's life from his troubled childhood in New Orleans through his troubled military career to his troubled time in the Soviet Union (and his unsuccessful attempts at defection) and his troubled marriage to a young Russian woman. Seems like Oswald was a bit troubled—a loose nut, probably not to be trusted as a spy or double agent. He was more likely than not, just a disillusioned wanna-be revolutionary and hardly someone the government would want to work with in the assassination plot of one of the most powerful men in the world. Yet something doesn’t quite fit and this is the CIA were talking about here. If you lean even slightly toward conspiracy theories regarding this pivotal part of American History, the ultimate objective was achieved and we know Oswald didn't spill his guts. Well...

An interesting read for sure, but Smith doesn't necessarily shed a lot of light on the subject for me. His writing style is a little clipped and he could have probably benefited from an editor to help organize his thoughts a little better, but this a zine not a graduate thesis so that's a gripe not a dis. It is amazing the things the CIA/FBI and the US Government think they can get away with. What would probably be even more amazing, are the things they have gotten away with that we'll never know aboutChris Auman

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

New REGLAR WIGLAR Comics Page!!!

Comics Review: Awesome Future

Stories of Victorious Action by Robnoxious (microcosm)
It’s hard not to get caught up in the optimistic feeling inspired by the prospect of an Awesome Future brought about through Victorious Action. Robnoxious makes no apologies for accentuating the positive in a series of comics and stories that share a similar theme: Punks Win. Go Punks! The book kicks off with a recounting of the time Rob and his friends found a piano on the way home from a punk rock show. There's the story of his family’s move from Colorado to Alaska in a converted school bus camper. In non-comic form, Rob describes a walk he took in Northern California, along a deserted dirt road at dusk. He also relates the tale of his vasectomy. Go Vasectomies! There's a longer piece on Rob's trip to Southern California to attend a retreat hosted by Thich Nhat Hank’s monastery. "Maxx’s Big Day" is an illustrated story about a the day in the life of Rob’s dog Maxx. Awesome Future ends with the comic "Awesome Future" in which some weird comic characters (a dolphin, a pickle, a chicken and a catfish) get jiggy with it. The future may be odd but it's certainly awesome as well. Go Awesome Future!—Chris Auman

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Music Review: AZITA

Disturbing the Air (Drag City)
The twelve songs on Disturbing the Air probably won’t get stuck in your head. Having been freed from AZITA’s mind, they aren't likely to be confined ever again. What may linger, however, is the melancholy feeling and dark mood created by her sparse piano ballads. I don't know that AZITA creates outsider art, but she definitely works on the outside of conventional music. She always has, despite her training in classical piano. From her time in no wave bands, Scissor Girls and Bride of No No, AZITA has always brought a challenge to the turntable. What was once loud, abrasive and impossible to ignore has become equally challenging and confrontational on a different emotional level. With just her voice and simple, at times atonal, piano lines, AZITA creates haunting songs of emptiness and loneliness that won’t quickly fade from your psycheChris Auman

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Zine Review: Xerography Debt #29

Davida Gypsy Breier, Editor (Leeking Ink)
Xerography Debt isn’t your father’s Factsheet Five (it’s much smaller) and it's not your mother's Zine World (the reviews are too positive), but Davida and her small band of volunteers have been carrying the torch for zinesters and the small press for almost thirty issues now.

Number 28 keeps with the familiar XD format of columns and reviews. Columnist Dread Sockett defends XD's decision to run only positive reviews; Inner Swine, Jeff Somers provides an explanation of why he keeps his opinion of other zines out of his own; Gianni Simone highlights the dying but not-quite-dead art of mail art and a handful of faithful zine readers tell us about the cream of the small press crop. Also in this issue is the second installment of the “Where Are They Now” feature which asks former zine publishers a few questions about why they stopped publishing and if they plan to ever take up the small press pursuit again. Some will, some won't and issues of time and money are invariably the reasons for stoppage—Chris Auman

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